Don’t Ignore This

Fox News and Askmen.com are so thoughtful. When I need a good rant, they supply the fodder.

Here’s the story: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2010/03/26/feminist-demands-wants-ignore/

My Facebook comment chain is currently blowing up with responses to this. There’s one basic thing that I want to say about this.

This article could and should have been written as this:

“Your Partner Wants You To Be Thoughtful Sometimes”

There is no need for it to be about women. There is no need to bring in feminism or gender roles. The only valid things in this article are that everyone likes having someone treat him or her like someone special every so often. Every part of this article can also apply to a man. Think of the first bullet-point, the bag-carrying, as this: “If he’s got too many grocery bags, offer to carry one.” “Walk with him to the bus stop.” Show that you care and that you notice when people are uncomfortable. Goddammit.

Number two (“Don’t Objectify Me!”) just makes me throw up my hands in exasperation. Finding a person attractive is fundamentally different from seeing a person as an object or as a “thing” without interiority. And I’ll be the first one to say that it’s nice to have people notice when you put care into your appearance. Just as it’s nice to have people notice when you work hard on a project or on developing a skill or…whatever. Moving on.

Number three, about paying for dinner. IT EVEN SAYS “MAKE SURE SHE’S THE TYPE OF GIRL WHO WOULD DO THE SAME FOR YOU.” So why why why is this being framed as something counter-feminist. Treating someone to a meal is just. A nice thing. To do. Period. For anyone.

Number four. Ooh, you know, I do actually secretly hate thinking for myself. Again, they’re using an inflammatory “rule” or title to disguise something completely different: that it’s nice not to always be the person in a partnership who decides everything. Sometimes you want someone else to take care of the plans. This is true in friendship as well as romantic partnership. You asshole.

And number five. The M-Word. Listen, I don’t know a single woman who DOES want to be “shackled into marriage.” Nor do I know a single man who does. No one wants to be shackled. Many people do think that if they could find someone to whom they’d be ready to make that commitment, that they would be willing to get married. Some people don’t believe in the institution at all. And sometimes people change their minds. The question here is the quality of the partnership, and I’m sorry, I won’t accept someone generalizing on behalf of an entire half of the population about whether or not they secretly want to take part in this institution. I would never say “Men secretly don’t want to get married.” I’ll tell you what: THERE IS NO MONOLITHIC, SECRETLY-COMMUNICATING UNANIMOUS COMMUNITY OF WOMEN OR OF MEN. Both sexes (and intersex individuals!) are made up of separate people with their own series of reasons for believing what they believe and wanting what they want. For the most part, what they want will not involve the word “shackles” (though some people are into that). For the most part, if they find the right person, they will want to make some kind of commitment based on how they mutually feel.

One of the things that very profoundly frustrates me is when people take issues that in all honesty transcend sex and gender and frame them as gender/sex issues. That was true when people were misusing #whitegirlproblems to refer to things more properly called #firstworldproblems, and it’s what upsets me in this article. Creating unnecessary dichotomies and “us versus them” dynamics between the sexes is precisely what I, as a feminist and a humanist, am against.

Can we please just all see each other as “people” a little more often?

Pretty please?

Now someone (and I’ll take someone of either sex) buy me dinner.

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3 Comments

Filed under Rants

3 responses to “Don’t Ignore This

  1. I agree the article was written ham-handedly. That said, I think it was directed at an audience that isn’t so much into semantic deconstruction as they are just culturally confused. I disagree with much of your analysis, not because I think that you are wrong but because that I think you and the article are far more in agreement than you realize. I won’t go into it here, but I would be happy to debate it via facebook message or e-mail.

  2. Holly Stratford

    I agree that as I read the article it was not as offensive as I expected it to be BUT kept thinking, “But the reverse is also true” [guys would also appreciate politeness and evidence of someone reciprocating thoughtfulness] . Your re-write was right on.

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